A lot of Talk and Some Action
~ December 1998 No.62 ~
I recently attended two meetings / talks on the broad issues of functional foods / nutraceutics - foods that are good for health. It is apparent that several trends are developing which are important to the producers and consumers of these products.
Right now there is a lot of confusion and frustration. The consumer is being bombarded by an ever increasing variety of food products that are being advertised as containing this nutrient or that component - all good for health. However, as many people are finding, much to their dismay, there is very often no validity to some of the claims being made. In some cases the companies haven't tested to ensure that the active ingredient that they are touting is in the product. In one case, I heard of recently the wrong part of the plant was being extracted and sold. In another case, the extraction procedure being used was so extreme that the active ingredient was oxidized beyond usefulness in the final product. There are no industry standards and therefore, it is left to the consumer to figure out from label information which product is best.
The industry is frustrated as they see competitors take advantage of an uneducated consumer. Currently, in Canada and in other places, there are no clear cut rules about how product health claims for functional foods / nutraceutics / probiotics need to be supported. Manufacturers are becoming impatient waiting for regulatory bodies.
One thing that is becoming clear is that everyone agrees that any system of approval of products good for health needs to have at its core good science. Yes, this will be long and expensive, but it is the only way to provide products that are safe and effective. With the trend more towards people self medicating, we need to know the ingredients in things we eat, their levels in our food, their effects on metabolism and disease, and their possible interactions with other components of the diet.
Together with this advance in the science supporting consumer products good for health, is a need for public education. This has been the goal of Medicinal Food News. We are trying to report on the latest advances in the fast growing field of functional foods / nutraceutics and probiotics. We are trying to explain in simple terms the science behind these products. The responses we have received from our readers indicates that Medicinal Food News has become a major source of information for those who want to know more about foods that are good for health.
Editor in Chief